A co-worker and I discussed an emotional non-profit this morning that a club at her daughter's high school had decided to endorse. It was one of those organizations that targets the younger generation with viral videos, slick marketing and trendy paraphernalia. A handful of students jumped on it and away it went.
Until one student said - wait, what do we know about this group? Thankfully, someone decided to question. The daughter began to discuss it at home, where her mom taught her to research and learn more before jumping in with both feet.
The mom brought it to work, where I said - wait one skinny minute and let's do some investigating on their IRS 990 forms, other websites involving their name, etc. Turns out, this group seems to be scamming money for an issue that was resolved four years ago, but most people don't realize it's over. The board and employees are mostly family members, which tosses up another red flag. There was enough negative vibes that I would shy away from it, and it seems the students are turning away, as well.
A great lesson was learned, however, for students who are at the age where they are being tapped to become involved in all types of organizations and causes. DO THE RESEARCH FIRST.
GuideStar. It's free to sign up to view tax documents for non-profits. There are other things you can do there, too, read and leave reviews but I don't put a lot of merit into that type of discussion. I would trust people I know more than those I have no idea what the motivation is behind their review.
Anyway, having been in the non-profit business for a few years myself, I know there are so many wonderful organizations out there who are wonderful financial stewards of "other people's money," investing in extremely worthwhile causes that are truly impacting lives in a very real way. But you always have those who are shady and sketchy that give honest folks a bad name. Make sure you know the difference.